A ceremony held this afternoon for San Jose police officers killed in the line of duty was especially somber with the latest loss dating back less than 50 days ago.
Mayor Sam Liccardo said:
“This year this memorial is uniquely painful and uniquely poignant. With Officer Michael Johnson, our community and our city felt an emotional and existential jolt that we haven’t felt in a generation.”
Johnson, 38, had responded to a call for service on March 24 when he was fatally shot by an armed suspect who had threatened to harm himself and others.
“Michael’s loss definitely hit a nerve with all,” and served to “reaffirm the dangers our officers and public safety personnel face everyday,” police Chief Larry Esquivel said.
Portraits of the police department’s 12 fallen officers stood on easels in front of a stage outside San Jose police headquarters.
On Mission Street two San Jose fire trucks extended their ladders into the air to hold a large American flag and parked underneath were three police cars.
The families of the fallen officers approached the stage as a formation of more than a hundred uniformed officers saluted them.
An officer sang the National Anthem and musicians in Scottish clothes played bagpipes and drums.
A moment of radio silence was held to recognize National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
A bell was rung as the names of each fallen officer, their badge number, and a description of what happened during their last call were read.
Police Chief Larry Esquivel shook the hands with each family member of the fallen officers in attendance today.
Addressing the officers at today’s ceremony, Esquivel said, “Concerning everything happening around the country surrounding law enforcement, stay proud of this uniform.” Esquivel called on the officers to remember that their uniform represents their role “as a protector and guardian” and shows respect to the fallen officers.
Paul Kelly, police sergeant and president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, said:
“We make this choice becoming police officers knowing the risks of the job we love. Our families know the risk too. … Today we honor our 12 such officers and 12 families who knew that risk and yet still made the decision that what they did mattered.”
Following the remarks, the formation of uniformed officers faced the front of the police administration building where the U.S., state and city flags that were raised and flown at half-staff.
A cannonball was fired and a wreath of red, white and blue flowers was placed in front of the flagpoles as the musicians played the song “Amazing Grace.”